Posted in: Student BlogOctober 7, 2015 11:13 am
You’ve finally got the grades to begin your university life. You’ve been through denial, anger, bargaining and depression, and come to accept the size of your student loan. You’ve opened your eyes to the prospect of being a graduate. You’ve braved Ikea, and bought for the first time all those items your parents assume are indispensable for modern living. Toasters, washing racks, cafetières, casserole dishes and tea-towels. Yet you haven’t had the heart to tell them that you’d rather they bought Berocca, paracetamol and some speakers, or that the close company of a near-stranger is as effective in winter as any fan heater. The “rents” have got so many disappointments coming up, you don’t want to make things worse. You let them sink into reveries about their student days as they drive you up an unfamiliar motorway to eventually drop you off at your first student digs so you can revel in the presence of your chosen cities Fresher’s Week…….
Here is your official survival guide!
Moving in & meeting new people
- When you first arrive, unpack and make your room your own. Then, when you get tired of unpacking and meeting people, you have a refuge.
- Make sure your door is open while you’re unpacking. That way, people can see you exist – it’s a guaranteed way to meet people. You might also like to put up a big sign with your first name on your room door.
- Look out for people on your course. If you meet someone, exchange numbers and agree to go to the first few lectures together. It is easier to meet new people once you’re already with someone. Even better, organise a trip to the uni bar after the first lecture with whoever wants to attend.
- Don’t stop talking to random people just because fresher’s week finishes. Keep going and keep meeting people. As people settle in they will be more relaxed and everyone will feel less like they are on best ‘friend-making’ behaviour.
Getting to know your University
- Many universities publish fresher’s week schedules and events on their websites or most likely on the Students’ Union website.
- It’s a good idea to take a good walk and explore the university in your first few days before your timetable officially starts. Rather than go by yourself, this is a great idea for something to do with your housemates.
- Where are the best coffee shops or places to eat for good lunch?
Societies & Fresher’s fairs
- Firstly embrace the experience and try and get involved in everything you think you’ll enjoy. Open your mind to new music and cultures and above all find yourself in your new city.
- University is probably the best opportunity you will ever have to try new sports, games, hobbies and activities. These will never be so cheap and easily available again. Have a look around the stalls at Fresher’s fairs and see what takes your fancy.
- Try something different or unusual. Smaller societies are often grateful for members and will devote more effort to each member, making them a more rewarding experience. More obscure sports are often more willing to cater for beginners, whereas mainstream sports may require previous experience of playing at a high level. Some big sports societies even insist on trials.
- Have a few taxi numbers in your phone contacts, just in case you get lost. Plus any phone numbers for your new friends – in case you get separated.
- Don’t worry if you’re a bit nervous about going out – it can be a scary time for any fresher because you’re still getting to know people.
- Second and third year students are helpful people to approach for advice on which events to go to. They are also usually the people who are selling tickets for the different nights. Talk to them when you buy tickets.
- You can look at the different nights which are available on the university notice boards. Most Students’ Unions will send you info about fresher’s week before you arrive – if not check out their website. Tickets always sell out for the most popular events, so make sure you get them early!
Money & Budgeting
- Always remember that being a student entitles you to student discount in most places, so always remember to ask before you pay.
- Look out for discounts promotions in supermarkets, restaurants, bars and clothes shops to save extra pennies
- Work out what you have to spend each week – and stick to it. If you do over-spend, then make sure you have a lean week next week to make up for it.
- Christmas is expensive – parties, clothes, and presents to buy. Keep a bit of money back for this.
- Look for cheaper versions of toiletries etc. in Pound Shops. Quite often this stuff is bankrupt stock – nothing wrong with it, just going cheaper.
- You don’t have to necessarily buy an NUS card as your university card entitles you to most of the same discounts
- Agree in advance what is and what is not communal food. Most kitchen groups treat milk, butter, washing up liquid, toothpaste and toilet roll as communal and simply take it in turns to buy them.
- Try to keep in a few tins of beans and tomato soup: perfect for emergency meals.
- Eat together where possible… have a curry evening or a spaghetti bolognese and take it in turns with your neighbours to host it. It works out way cheaper than cooking for one, and if you host your meal and run out of cash for food later in the week, at least you know dinner is being provided by one of your housemates!
- Market stalls are usually far cheaper for buying vegetables than in a supermarket. Vegetables are considerably cheaper than meat. Try to use them as the basis for the majority of meals. This is not only frugal but also extremely healthy.
- If you can’t share, cook more than you need and freeze some for another day. It saves money, both on food and on fuel used for cooking.
- Ready meals from supermarkets may look like the answer to eating without cooking. Just be aware that they are far more expensive than making it yourself – and usually full of nasty stuff like salt and saturated fat. A healthy diet they are not.
Books, reading lists & staying organised
- Just because a book is on your reading list does not mean you have to buy it! You should borrow from your university library. Only buy books that you are specifically told to by your tutors and, even then, you can usually borrow these from the library.
- Most books on your reading list (especially for arts/humanities/social science subjects) you will either read once, or read just a chapter from each book. Next week’s reading will be a whole new list of books. This is why you shouldn’t even think of buying them.
- You can buy good copies of most uni text books 2nd hand – just make sure they are the right ‘edition’ (i.e. published in the right year). If in doubt get the most up to date one.
- Always keep a diary or make note of deadlines and meetings in your phone. Staying super organised is the key to not falling behind and not getting stressed.
- There’s safety in numbers: try to stick with a group of people.
- Familiarise yourself with the new area before going out.
- If you’re in a club, never leave your drink unattended at any time.
- Being at uni you want to try ‘new things’. Just be aware of what you are trying. People will tell you ‘it’ is ‘really, really safe’, but is it? Think carefully.
- All universities have a counselling service, and many have a Nightline/Helpline. If you are feeling depressed, talk to someone. Some people feel very homesick when they leave home for the first time – it’s normal, but it can also make your first term at uni unhappy. Talk to other people about how you are feeling, and if you get very low, reach out for help from your university.
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Categorised in: Student Blog
This post was written by John I